If you’re looking for a diverse and rugged outdoors/hiking experience that’s close to home but feels really far away then you need to head over to Oakes Quarry Park.
On the road less traveled and a little off the beaten path lies this remote little hidden gem in Fairborn. Oakes Quarry is one of 12 Fairborn city parks.
This place sorta makes you feel like you’re out west in the canyonlands area. It’s actually one of the most unique hiking areas in all of the Miami Valley. Although it’s not really the Grand Canyon or even a real canyon for that matter, it is a “grand” place to visit and the park does resemble a very small canyon with an upper rim trail and some lower rim side trails and fascinating features.
Here is what you are going to encounter at this outdoors oasis:
At the 190-acre Oakes Quarry Park, formerly a rock quarry, visitors will find world class fossil beds, a 30-acre native grass prairie, rock outcrops, an old growth forest, and many stunning views.
The trail system is very well constructed and marked with interpretive signage. The park has foot trails and horseback trails that cross over ancient limestone fossils exposed by the previous mining activity in the quarry.
The upper rim trail is two miles long and the lower rim contains various smaller side trails with free-style hiking and roaming opportunities. In addition to hiking, the park is used for fishing (four ponds, no permit required), horseback riding (one-mile trail), outdoor photography, educational studies, wildlife viewing, and bird watching.
As you explore the quarry further, you will discover scenic lookouts, cliffs, huge rock outcrops, gigantic boulders, and many beautiful panoramic views of the quarry and surrounding areas. On some days you may see wildlife and many bird species roaming the canyon.
Oakes Quarry also features what many consider one of the most diverse collections of marine organism fossils from the Silurian age. Deep in its nooks and crannies and also in the belly (pit) of the canyon, visitors will also discover ancient glacial grooves, two ancient coral reefs, polishing and other rock formations that were created during the Ice Age. Don’t miss the coral reef side trails; watch for directional signs just off the upper rim trail.
Additionally, visitors are allowed to explore and find their own fossils to take home with them. University-led geologic research occurs at the park and fossil collecting is permitted in designated areas.
Conservation work has been done here with prairie development and wetlands restoration, both once common in the area. In the northern edge of the park stands old growth woodlands.
This site was originally surface mined way back in 1929 for limestone to make cement before being sold to the Pairs family in the 1990s. The family donated the land to the City of Fairborn in 2003.
The Clean Ohio Conservation Fund assisted with the development of this intriguing park.
So take a self guided tour and dig into the past at Oakes Quarry Park. Explore the canyon, search for fossils, view the two coral reefs, and take in the beautiful panoramic views while hiking the upper and lower rim trails
Oakes Quarry park is a City of Fairborn treasure located just east of the intersection of State Route 235 and I-675. For more information visit www.fairbornoh.gov. The park is open 365 days a year from dawn to dusk.